Hello Everyone! It’s time to review another bottle of wine and like the last review, it’s from Picchetti. I’m a member of their wine club and have a backlog of wines from previous releases. So it’ll be Picchetti for a few more weeks. I’ve always had a soft spot for Picchetti for a couple of reasons. The first is that they were close to where I grew up in the SF Bay Area so it was easy to get to. The second is that they don’t sell their wines outside of the winery and their online store. This makes the wines fun to talk about and share with folks who are not local or knowledgable about small wineries.
Today’s wine is the 2017 Vino di Vicino. The first thing I wanted to know was what the term Vino di Vicino meant. The language is Italian and it translates to “wine of the neighborhood”. Some quick checking online reveals that the term is not commonly used. I found a couple of references to wine stores in the US and Italy that use the phrase in their name. But I found no other wine with the phrase on the label. This gives the wine a nice, casual feel while not casual in price!
My immediate impressions of the wine are positive and it is an improvement over the 2019 Cinsault in the last review. However, I will update this review after I have allowed the wine to settle for a few days and have been able to pair it.
Overall Rating: 11/15
Here are the specifics.
Vino di Vicino
Red blend composed mostly of Cabernet Sauvignon
Santa Cruz Mountains
Price (single bottle, non-club)
BOTTLE: Once again, the bottle would get top marks if I included that in the score. Like all their other wines, this bottle has an elegant and understated appearance which I find sophisticated and attractive.
WINE: The wine is a deep red which makes sense given that it is primarily composed of Cabernet which is a pretty dark grape. Unlike the Cinsault from the last review, this wine appears more “mature” but I base that purely on the deepness of the color and on no other scientific observation. There were barely any wine legs that formed when the wine was angled against the glass.
I was immediately reminded of spice and leather when fully inhaling the aroma and letting it linger. There was also a hint of black pepper and dried apricots when inhaled from a slight distance from the glass while swirling the wine. I enjoyed the aroma and when I did the full inhale I was immediately reminded of the smell of a leather shoe – before it was worn!
You can definitely “taste” the spice. The notes of pepper from the aroma were accompanied by notes of fennel as well. The slightly sweet taste from the apricot was a pleasant experience particularly when swallowing the wine immediately and letting the after taste linger. Several additional sips helped to convey a fatty flavor as well though this was probably helped by the coating of the tannins in my mouth by that point.
Hi there! Here is a quick update on the 2019 Picchetti Cinsault that I reviewed a couple of weeks ago. The wine mellowed considerably after letting it sit. I also pared the wine with a pork belly dinner which was absolutely superb. The flavor of the cherry in the wine complimented the pork belly nicely and gave an overall sweetness to the meal without overpowering. The wine on its own is still not my favorite to drink as is, but, when pared, it really shines.
Hi Everyone – I’ve decided that I should live up to the title of my blog and talk a little bit about wine. I’m in the process of developing my palate so that means that future reviews will only get better.
Today, I’ll be trying the 2019 Cinsault (pronounced “sin-so”), one of the two wines that Picchetti Winery released for their Summer 2021 Wine Club Release. Cinsault is primarily used to blend with other red varieties. In South Africa, Cinsault is frequently blended with Pinotage. It is also commonly blended with Grenache.
Upon doing some research, the vineyard is located in Lodi, California. As a native Californian I was only aware of Lodi as a “drive-thru” city between my home in San Jose and my parent’s home in the Sacramento area. However, the more I have been researching wine in California, the more I read about Lodi. Perhaps I can do a quick pitstop on my way to Sacramento next time!
I’ve enjoyed Picchetti Winery a lot over the years. It’s nestled in the foothills over Cupertino, California – where I grew up. The actual property is beautiful and the tasting room is enjoyable and is a great place to host an event. And I like their wines and their staff. But this particular wine misses the mark for me. It’s apparent to me why the wine is typically blended with other reds. Nothing stands out for me. I plan to pair this wine with pork belly throughout the week. And will be happy to update this review based on its pairing.
Overall Score: 10/15
Below are the specifics (including images) and how my score adds up.
Bechtholdt Vineyard, Mokelumne, Lodi, CA
Price (single bottle, non-club)
BOTTLE: The bottles at Picchetti are beautiful. The labels are understated and tasteful, using gold script that appears handwritten. I believe that the first bottle (prototype?) is actually handwritten. I don’t know if the rest are then printed or actually handwritten. The vineyard produces small batches so I could see someone’s full-time job being that! I don’t rate wine labels but this one is a favorite of mine for its simplicity and elegance.
WINE: The wine itself is bright red. The light diffuses evenly in direct sunlight with a translucent red halo around the rim. The wine’s viscosity appears somewhat low as no define “wine legs” appeared though it still took several seconds for the alcohol to evaporate on the glass. The color is attractive in both neutral light and direct sunlight when out of the bottle.
The wine smells of cherry fruit to me. As I let the wine settle the cherry smell permeated even more. When the wine first came out of the bottle I could smell a hint of citrus. The aroma is fine but not distinct to me.
The wine is sweet immediately on the tongue. The taste of cherry is present and also orange. Picchetti winery describes it as “blood orange”. The taste does not linger long after the initial taste. The wine is somewhat acidic and I could feel it on my tongue and the back of my mouth. The overall bouquet is one of spiciness. Cardinal tastes for me are sweet, sour and a slightly bitter finish.
Wanderlust – it’s a delicious word. A thirst, or desire to wander. For those who love to travel it conjures up a yearning sensation to be someplace other than where you currently are. This is more poignant than ever while on Earth in the year 2020. With COVID continuing to ravage not just the US but large swaths of the world, it feels like travel as we know it is over. In fact, this polar shift from cheap and accessible travel with low risk to today has created a new term: revenge travel. I’ve linked to a good article in The Washington Post on it if you want to learn more. It’s an interesting concept and certainly one that I can see myself emphatically agreeing to join in on after a few glasses of wine.
But before the wine has a chance to kick in, I am going to talk about my favorite places. And the place that consistently takes my top spot is Greece.
I was fortunate enough to visit Greece for the first time while living in the United Kingdom for work in 2014. It’s a quick jump across the Channel and over the continent taking approximately 4 hours to get to. So, in the same time you can fly from San Francisco to Chicago, you can go from London to Greece (well, Athens specifically). Pretty cool, huh? Since that first trip, I have been blessed enough to be able to visit Greece 3 times. 2020 would have made it 4 but I’ll plan something grand for my revenge travel in the Hellenistic Region.
Greece, to me, is magical. It’s the combination of history, geography, climate, people and culture that make it a place steeped in tradition but one that welcomes outsiders to experience it. Yes, yes, the country is extremely dependent on tourists to run, but there is a warmness and welcoming attitude that Greeks have which make the country extremely accessible. But enough generalizations. For my first spotlight, I am going to focus on the island of Ios.
The island of Ios, which is part of Greece’s Cyclades Islands, lies in Aegean Sea almost smack dab between the islands of Paros and Santorini. The island, like everything else in Greece, has a rich history that dates back thousands upon thousands of years. There is some evidence that the name Ios derives from the Ionian tribe; one of the four major tribes that made up the ancient Greek world. I’m also going to go out on a limb and say that Ionian columns come from this island but I have no claim to back this up…hmm…the wine is starting to kick in.
While you may not have heard of Ios (everyone just assumes Santorini when they think “Greek islands”), I can guarantee you that every university student in Europe has. While the neighboring island of Mykonos may have been the original hotbed of young beach life in Greece in the 1960s and 1970s, progressive development and a good dose of bougie homosexual glitter have lead to young people to flock to cheaper pastures. And they find it on Ios. Between late May into early September, young folks flock to the island like a gaggle of Canadian Geese. They do the traditional things like party all night and sleep on the beach all day. But they can also experience less orthodox things like partaking in the Slammer Hammer. Yes, there is a bar inventively names “Slammer Bar” where you can wear a helmet and get smacked on the head with a hammer. If you look this up in Google Images you’ll see several other objects being used. FUN!
But I digress….
When I visited Ios, it was at the end of the season. I was there at the end of September after all the Geese had decided to reverse migrate back north to their dreary dorms. Most of the bars including “Slammer Bar” had closed for the season. But I was by no means alone! On this trip I was accompanied by my partner and one of my best friends. We spent four wonderful and stormy days on the island.
We arrived, as one does in this part of the world, via ferry. The air was thick with smoke from the diesel engines…the paper plates had — luckily — never been used. Our ferry was not The Ship of Dreams… and thank god for that because whoever would dream something like that up should be committed. The ferry docked in the main port, in fact I think it was the only port and we were able to find a taxi to take us to our hotel: Levantes Ios Boutique Hotel.
We got to Levantes in the mid afternoon and were immediately taken with the property. Nestled on the edge of a hill, we were greeted with expansive views of a valley dotted with small white farms and houses. The valley gently slopes down to the right to touch the Aegean Sea at Mylopotas Beach. The hotel is exactly what you would expect in a boutique hotel catering to international clientele. It’s modern and clean while all the while wrapped in a rustic chic charm that works really well. Our room was gorgeous and elicited a sense of tranquility which is exactly what we were looking for. The sun sets on us while we have a drink at the pool and we are treated to a gorgeous view.
After watching the sunset, we decided to go down the hill to get some dinner. We came across a restaurant – Salt – which became a staple for us during lunch and dinner while we were there. The food was incredible but the service and the views were even more magical. After several bottles of wine, appetizers, entrees and desserts, we were ready to quit our jobs and move there. That happens to us a lot so that will become a common thread in these posts. We make it back to the hotel at some point and are greeted to this incredible image. Little did we know that this would be the most peaceful night of our time on the island.
The next day the weather progressively got worse. The wind picked up to insane speeds and clouds kept flying over the mountains of the valley. We spent the rest of our time trying to stay warm on the beach and keep the sand out of our eyes. During our second evening, we were just hanging out in the hotel’s common area and we saw on the TV that a hurricane was passing the island! Well, this wasn’t a hurricane. It was a Medicane. Yes, a Medicane. It is literally a portmanteau of Mediterranean and Hurricane. And Ios got smacked by winds, rain and clouds as the storm passed close by us. I had no idea that the Mediterranean could produce hurricanes but as an American, I am going to give myself a pass on this. It’s a miracle that I don’t think of Europe as a country.
If you have any questions on Ios or the Cyclades islands, let me know! I cannot wait to get back there at some point. The wine has moved in so it’s probably a good time to end. You all take care of yourselves. Stay safe and healthy my friends!
So, in between my first introductory post and this one I cleaned out the lint trap in the dryer and threw in a load. But I’m sure that’s NOT why you came here. Earlier today, I rewatched a horror movie, that I admit, I was intrigued by when I first watched it. Gehenna: Where Death Lives is a horror film about time travel and coming to terms with ones sins. It starts out hundreds of years ago (before there was even a ‘MURICA!). A group of scantily clad men – my favorite – are standing around some old white man who is tied to a rock alter. A little chanting followed by some magic powder leads to a great scene that would make Ed Gein and Leatherface proud. Let’s just say that it doesn’t end well for the white guy.
Fast forward about four hundred years and we’re now in modern day Saipan. Fun fact, Saipan is the second largest island in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. You may have heard of its larger sister island, Guam. “Funner” fact, I thought Saipan was in the Philippines. “Funest” fact, I am a white American male, so, are you really surprised? But I digress. So, we are treated to a bunch of white people (mostly American with an Aussie thrown in) commenting about wanting to turn this lush tropical paradise into the next Daytona Beach. To help add in some authenticity to the film, Lance Henriksen (Aliens) makes a cameo as an executive/mentor to the main character…whose name I have already forgotten…again. #thankyouwine
Anywho, this group, being your stereotypical bunch of westerners, disregards the locals and customs. They are attempting to develop a plot of undeveloped land to turn it into an Instagrammers wet dream. But they run into a slight snag. You see, this undeveloped paradise happens to be an ancient site. The same site that we may have seen in the very first scene? What do you think?
So, they get to this plot of land. And wouldn’t you know, they run into an elderly local man…who happens to be wearing the face of the dude from the first scene hundreds of years ago! And wouldn’t you know, he has a warning for all of them. Basically, stay around here and bad things will happen. Of course they ignore it (I mean, did you want the movie to only be 20 minutes?). A little bit of foreshadowing later the group stumbles upon an old Japanese bunker from WWII. Being of sound minds, they decide to go into it even though there is NO mention of this bunker on any official documentation. They soon discover a bunch of bodies. As if that wasn’t horrible enough, they enter one particular room and are attacked by what is described as a “living corpse”.
Now, at this point, I have to admit that I am somewhat intrigued. But, we are already about 30ish minutes into the film. What follows is a tale of judgement for past sins with a bit of time travel thrown in. I won’t divulge any other information on that because it would count as a major spoiler and I don’t think I am that kind of turd. But this blog is young so you never know. Suffice it to say that this film is a slow burner with some cliche J-horror scares thrown in. The director is Japanese and the film is an American-Japanese collaboration. And while the scares are good (I have a soft spot for J-horror), it ultimately comes across as too little too late. So, what would I rate this as… well, I’d give it a solid half-bottle of wine. Don’t judge, I literally came up with the wine bottle rating system right now and have yet to even define what it means. Or judge, I don’t care.
This review was brought to you by a lovely Petite Syrah.